By: Marilyn Wilson

Shine 2016 – an extravaganza of fashion, music and dance– will be hitting the stage at the Commodore Ballroom on September 10th. This wonderful evening is made possible by hundreds of individuals who are rallying together for mental health. Communities helping communities!

Every single person and every single business involved is volunteering their time and services. Because of their generosity, Shine! will be able to donate 100% of every dollar raised through ticket sales and donations directly to the evenings recipients – Canadian Mental Health Association and The Lions Gate Hospital HOpe Centre.

As a thank-you , we will be highlighting some of the wonderful people and businesses who are working hard to make this evening the best it can be. Today’s interview is with Shay Leah of Oculto Masks, one of 12 designers participating in SHINE!


Please share about your journey to becoming a designer – how did you choose this career, training or self-taught, when did you launch your brand?

I was in an artistic void and needed to take my art in a new direction. I had had it with sculpting and painting, so my best friend and I decided to go to New Orleans for Mardi gras. On a whim I chose to make us masks for our trip (which I had never done before), and they were a HUGE success there!

I’m definitely 100% self taught and I launched my brand ‘Oculto Masks’ about 5 years ago.

Describe your brand/collection? Who is your customer? What would you most like readers to know?

My collection is full of dark, texturally rich designs that often can be linked to the Steampunk subculture, with hints of Venice in them as well. My customers come from all over the world as I sell my work online, and they range from mask collectors to performance artists and everyone in between.

I’d love readers to know that while we all wear various disguises during the day, our true selves can really come out to play when we’re able to literally put on a mask. There’s a great deal of freedom in knowing that nobody knows who you are – when you can hide behind something that allows you release even more of yourself into the world.

What do you love most about working in the world of design? What is hardest?

I love the solitude of working in design. Weaving and creating in my cave. Bringing new creatures to life. Manifesting them from nothingness. I find that the most difficult element of working in the world of design is interacting with clients and other people. I’m a true introvert, so marketing myself and putting myself out there is my greatest struggle.

Can your share an interesting story from your time working in this field?

By far the best story I have is of one man who lived in Vancouver and, after getting out of a bad relationship, rediscovered a partner from his past who in turn became the ultimate love of his life. They both relocated permanently to Brazil and commissioned beautiful, ornate masks from me which they wore them for Brazilian Carnival during their wedding and while they recited their wedding vows!

Please share how you heard about Shine 2016 and why you feel it’s important to participate in this fundraiser for Canadian Mental Health Association and The LionsGate Hospital HOpe Centre.

I heard about Shine 2016 from it’s creator, Dean Thullner, several weeks before he publicly announced it! And the reason why I feel it’s important to participate in this fundraiser is because mental health, historically, has always been an incredibly taboo subject in society, especially if someone’s mental faculties are in question. Their suffering isn’t acceptable now and it never should have been in the first place. Everyone deserves support and assistance in being able to live a healthy, happy life, and this fundraiser acknowledges that and demands that everyone get the care they need and that no one deserves to be shamed or left behind.

What part of the Shine 2016 show will you be involved with? Can you give us a titillating hint as to what we expect so see from you on the runway?

I’ll be in the fashion/design segment of Shine 2016 and as for a hint… keep your eyes peeled for very sparkly, shiny, dangerous looking things on the runway!

For more information on Shay Lhea and Oculto Masks, please visit one of her two websites – Portfolio:


Shine 2016 is going to be a do-not-miss amazing showcase of fashion, music and dance, all in support of The Canadian Mental Health Association and The Lions Gate Hospital HOpe Centre.